PRECISION FARMING INNOVATIONS
Precision agriculture or satellite farming or site specific crop management is a farming management concept based on observing, measuring and responding to inter and intra-field variability in crops. The goal of precision agriculture research is to define a decision support system for whole farm management with the goal of optimizing returns on inputs while preserving resources.
Among these many approaches is a phytogeomorphological approach which ties multi-year crop growth stability/characteristics to topological terrain attributes. The interest in the phytogeomorphological approach stems from the fact that the geomorphology component typically dictates the hydrology of the farm field.
The practice of precision agriculture has been enabled by the advent of GPS and GNSS. The farmer’s and/or researcher’s ability to locate their precise position in a field allows for the creation of maps of the spatial variability of as many variables as can be measured (crop yield, terrain features topography, organic matter content, moisture levels, nitrogen levels, pH, EC, Mg, and K). Similar data is collected by crop yield monitors mounted on equipped combine harvesters, arrays of real time vehicle mountable sensors that measure everything from chlorophyll levels to plant water status.
This data is then used by variable rate technology including seeders, and sprayers to optimally distribute resources.
Precision agriculture has also been enabled by affordable unmanned aerial vehicles like the DJI Phantom that cost under $1000 and can be operated by novice pilots. These systems, commonly known to as drones, can be equipped with hyperspectral or RGB cameras to capture many images of a field that can be processed using photogrammetric methods to create othrophotos and NDVI maps.